John Carlson has reclaimed his usual spot on the Capitals’ blue line, which probably means he’ll be good to go for Game 1.
Carlson missed the final four games of the regular season with a lower body injury and skated as an extra during Tuesday’s practice.
On Wednesday, however, Carlson was back on the top pair alongside Karl Alzner.
After the hour-long practice, Carlson said he felt better than he did Tuesday but still stopped short of saying he’ll definitely suit up against the Maple Leafs on Thursday.
“It’s a process,” Carlson said. “I’m part of the decision but I’m not any decision-maker. I’m just doing everything I possibly can to get better and be stronger. But, yeah, I feel good.”
Carlson said his focus the past two days has been regaining his timing.
“I’ve been away from the team a little bit, so I think that’s the biggest thing, feeling everything out and getting back into the swing of things as far as passing and breakouts, all that stuff,” he said. “Not that it’s a huge deal—I think I can overcome that—but certainly that’s something I was concentrating on.”
Coach Barry Trotz said Carlson’s status for Game 1 had not changed.
“No, same,” he said. “You’ll have to come tomorrow.”
Asked if he thought Carlson looked better in his second practice back with the team, Trotz went into playoff mode.
“I don’t know, how did he look?” Trotz asked jokingly before adding: “No, he was fine. He was fine the last two days. Looked fine.”
Trotz continued: “He’s been a big part in the last three years since I’ve been here. He’s been a high producer. He’s been a quality defenseman. …He’s a big part of what we do.”
The Caps were already huge favorites in this series. Getting their ice-time leader back into the fold only figures to increase the gap between the teams.
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